London September, 2019
Leading Routes: The Broken Pipeline – Barriers to Black PhD Students Accessing Research Council Funding
A new Leading Routes report reveals that inequalities and bias within higher education are substantially disadvantaging Black students and impacting their access to the funding required to support their further
“These inequalities within academia undermine egalitarian ideals associated with equality, equity and diversity.”
‘The Broken Pipeline: Barriers to Black PhD Students Accessing Research Council Funding’ presents the findings of a closed roundtable discussion held in February 2019. The report examines the link between the BME attainment gap at undergraduate level, and students’ experiences when seeking council-funded postgraduate research places.
The report analyses key contributing factors across the higher education sector that affect Black students’access to research council funding including inequality and structural racism. It reveals that sector wide discrimination and bias continue to play a significant role in restricting access to funding and in consequence limiting the number of Black PhD students and academics in the UK.
The report further highlights a disconcerting figure: over a three year period just 1.2% of the 19,868 studentships awarded by all UKRI research councils went to Black or Black Mixed students and only 30 of those were from Black Caribbean background.
“We can see that there have been improvements overall in undergraduate recruitment numbers over the years, with many Black students going on to pursue taught postgraduate programmes,” says Paulette Williams founder of Leading Routes. “However, progress tails off dramatically at postgraduate research level – particularly when it comes to Black PhD students securing funding from research councils. We need an intervention that is supported at a national level to address this issue.”